‘I am a freelance creative and have launched a project entitled I.D.S.T – “IF DESTROYED STILL TRUE”. Photography has been my number one way of expressing how I am feeling, having been diagnosed with a serious mental health issue back in 2002. The aim is to help fight the stigma of having a mental illness, and to shed a positive light on the subject through the use of photography as a coping mechanism.
‘Recently I suffered another relapse, and once I started to get well again, I came up with the idea to put on a solo photography exhibition and produce a photography book. The proceeds will go towards mental health charities and the NHS medical teams that have helped me.
‘Being at South London and Maudlsey was an eye opener because when you have a mental illness, you don’t really get in touch with anyone else who has it and is suffering with the same symptoms. In the Ward I was in, there were people who didn’t have the benefit of having friends and family around them, which was sad as they were in an exceptionally vulnerable period of their lives.
‘I have been very lucky to have had the support of friends, family and work, which made a huge difference for me. To see people who didn’t have that was very upsetting. The staff, however, were incredibly open and so friendly and there was such a great sense of community.
‘For me, photography is the way to fight back at my mental illness. The world that I see can be very dark, harrowing and unreal and so through photography I am able to express my feelings and fight back. When I have a camera I am able to shoot what I see around me, and if I see something that seems threatening or is really nice, I have the chance to take a picture of that and document it. I’ve always tried to document the way that I see things. I hope my work is able to give a positive spin on mental illness.
‘If the public can see that positive outcomes are possible, they would see another side to mental illness, and the help that South London and Maudsley can give.’
You can support Matthew by visiting his crowdfunding page and explore some of his brilliant photography.
Find out more about how you can donate or start fundraising today.]]>
‘Anne Walker ran 2017 London Marathon and raised £2,574 for Acorn Lodge, in Bethlem Royal Hospital. It’s an inpatient facility for children aged 4-12 who have a wide range of severe emotional or behavioural disorders.
‘In December 2015 our 10-year-old son said he didn’t want to live anymore. Prior to this he had spent three years out of school, mostly confined to his bedroom, displaying symptoms of anxiety and depression. We had spent all our money trying to help him in the United Arab Emirates where we live, but nothing had worked.
‘By chance when we moved to Abu Dhabi in 2015, the Maudsley had opened a clinic for children and adolescents and they recommended a referral to their London based Children’s unit, Acorn Lodge in Bethlem Royal Hospital. On 4 February 2016 at 11am, we admitted our beautiful son to a psychiatric hospital. This decision was not taken lightly but it was the end of the road, our last chance, the hardest thing we have ever had to do.
‘The initial days were not easy but Ethan started to make good progress and he was back in the hospital school within three days. He started to enjoy the activities that were on offer such as horse-riding. He was intrigued by the difficulties the other patients were facing and his amazing sense of humor came out. For example in the first week he made a poster for his bedroom wall saying “Holiday gone wrong”!
‘Scott and I flew from Abu Dhabi to London every weekend for three months to visit him. I often sat in Heathrow Airport in tears on a Saturday night when I had to leave. It was a very emotional journey.
‘Ethan was discharged on 4 May having finally been given a diagnosis of anxiety disorder on a background of Atypical ASD (autism spectrum disorder). This diagnosis allowed us to understand the difficulties he had faced. After being discharged, Ethan was educated at home and then started mainstream school in August 2016.
‘We are eternally grateful to the team at Acorn Lodge including Dr Marinos and Carmel Fraser for helping our son get well and giving him a chance of a life. We take nothing for granted, and that’s why I ran the London Marathon - to thank Acorn Lodge for saving our son.
Find out more about how you can donate or start fundraising today.]]>
The dance intervention has proved very successful for its participants. Clinically, wellbeing has measured to have improved significantly, and personally, lots of positive feedback has been received.
The project runs for four weeks, with groups of twelve young adults and six peer mentors. Participants have lessons in contemporary dance, intensively learning and rehearsing an original dance work. At the end of the four weeks participants perform the piece to family and friends, allowing their loved ones see them in a different light and for them to all celebrate their achievements together.
Gemma has schizophrenia, which means daily life can be a challenge if she is having an episode, and when she first developed the condition it severely affected her confidence.
She began to show signs of having schizophrenia in her late teens and early twenties, but it was some time before mental health professionals came up with the diagnosis. Gemma went through a very difficult period of her life just before being referred to Bethlem at SLaM.
Alison says, ‘It was a very distressing time for the whole family as well as my sister, and she was in such a bad way that I personally couldn't have imagined her making any sort of recovery when she was first admitted.’
It is so hard to watch a loved one deal with mental health issues and feel completely helpless. Running the London Marathon is a way that Alison can give back to SLaM to say thank you for helping Gemma to steer herself through a very rough time.
‘Over the course of her year’s stay at Bethlem, Gemma became gradually better and was eventually able to do simple things like tidy her room and go for short walks again, which she hadn’t been able to do for some time.
‘She was then able to participate in some of the excellent occupational therapy activities that SLaM offers, such as cookery, pottery, art and cycling. These weekly activities were completely invaluable to her recovery, because they helped to build her confidence.’
SLaM also helped Gemma to stop smoking and she enjoyed walking the dog that visited the hospital once a week.
Gemma says, ‘I spent about 12 months at the Royal Bethlem Hospital, where the care and support I received was exceptional. The various occupational therapy classes were a huge benefit and the staff were superb. I really enjoyed cookery in particular.’
Alison says, ‘Gemma has now left Bethlem and is living independently. For a few days every week, she actively volunteers in a local Fairtrade café and in an office. She has also taken up doing 10K runs and half marathons for her wellbeing.’
Gemma hopes to be able to take on some part-time paid work in the near future, which is a possibility that would have been much more remote without the help of SLaM.
Alison has been training hard for the London Marathon and received donations from their friends and family, who have been keen to support the cause.
‘I have been running with my local group in Croydon for nearly two years now, moving from 5K to 10K runs, to half marathons, and now I’m taking on my first full marathon. When I won a ballot ticket I was really pleased, and my running friends who couldn’t get tickets are running the Brighton Marathon the week before instead.
‘I wanted to fundraise for SLaM as a way of giving something back to the organisation that offered my sister so much help. The London Marathon lands on my birthday this year, so it will be nice to complete it in my 38th year!’
Many services at SLaM have been funded by essential fundraising like Laura’s. Sign up to cheer on Alison at the London Marathon with us!
Names have been changed to protect their identities.]]>
Which part of SLaM do you work in?
I am a Senior Clinical Psychologist in SLaM’s Mental Health in Learning Disabilities Service, which is part of the Behavioural and Developmental Psychiatry CAG. We are a secondary care community mental health team for people with learning disabilities and additional mental health and/or behaviour that can challenge, who require a specialist learning disability service. I’m currently based in the Lambeth borough but we regularly work across the different boroughs depending on the needs of the service.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical day as the role is so varied but this is something that I really enjoy about my job. A typical week involves attending clinical/multi-disciplinary team meetings; using a variety of psycho-therapeutic models to work collaboratively with service users on their own self-defined goals for recovery; supporting the systems and networks around a service user to improve their quality of life; group-work and mental health prevention and promotion work at a community level.
A typical week also usually involves delivering some form of education or training, be that through The Estia Centre (a training, research and development resource to support the development of a competent workforce for people with learning disabilities and additional mental health needs), The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience or SLaM’s Recovery College.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The variety of the job ensures that I never get bored but what I most enjoy has to be the social justice and human rights element to my role. People with learning disabilities continue to be the most likely group in society to have their human rights breached. Supporting the people I work with to claim their own voice and constructively challenge these issues is hugely satisfying.
Which part of your job is most challenging?
Working with the systems around a person is probably the most challenging aspect of the job, particularly in the current climate of austerity and cuts to social services. However, this does allow for the development of creative approaches to overcome this. Another challenging aspect is trying to find a balance between meeting the needs of the service and providing a high-quality, individualised service to each service user.
What is your favourite thing about SLaM?
I would say my favourite thing about SLaM is the close links between clinical work, academia and research. In comparison to other places I have worked, I feel supported to further develop my skills and there are many opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD). Things unique to SLaM such as the Board of Governors’ Smile for Health Scheme and Maudsley Charity also provide opportunities for creative and innovative service development.
What’s your proudest achievement in your career to date?
My proudest achievement is most likely qualifying as a clinical psychologist. Since then it is probably working with service users to co-produce The Discovery Group – this is an adapted mental health recovery group for people with learning disabilities. The last group culminated in the group members choosing to write to the Prime Minister to highlight the difficulties of using public transport in London if you’re dependent on a wheelchair to access the community.
What do you like to do outside of work in your free time?
I’m relatively new to London so I’m still enjoying exploring the delights of the city, particularly when it involves stumbling across a local gin distillery!
If you could only take one thing to a desert island, what would it be?
I’d ask Mary Poppins if I could borrow her bag to take as I’m sure I’d find anything I needed in there!
We hope you enjoyed reading this interview with Kieron. Find out more about how you can get involved in supporting the services at SLaM.]]>
They've released a new video with updates on their progress since first opening in 2014.
SLaM Recovery College Manager. I’m an occupational therapist by profession.
SLaM Recovery College is based at the Maudsley Hospital within the Corporate Occupational Therapy service led by Gabrielle Richards, but we deliver courses and workshops right across Croydon, Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth in about 15 venues each term.
Every day is different, which is something I love about the job. I work in a team that includes peer recovery trainers (people with lived experience who co-produce and deliver our workshops), clinicians and administrators which is a fantastic environment to be in. I’m involved in co-producing and teaching workshops as well as the operational management and strategic development of the college. I meet lots of interesting people, including our students, and provide support to our team members.
The thing I enjoy most is seeing the way the college has developed in the past two years. This is down to the people involved. The peer and practitioner trainers and the very dedicated team behind the scenes have worked incredibly hard to get the college up and running. Now we are seeing the positive impact the learning is having on the lives of our students which is inspiring and gives hope to others.
Time-management! The college office is a dynamic and fun place to be. The interest in what we offer has been fantastic, and finding time for all the projects and developments can be a challenge. I’m lucky that I work alongside Tony Holmes (operations manager) who is the most organised person I know.
Working in an environment where service users are being given the opportunity to take up meaningful work within the organisation to support others in their recovery journeys. Our peer recovery trainer team are very skilled and dedicated. They give an enormous amount of their time and expertise to support service users in a non-clinical environment. I’m very lucky to lead a team that inspires people to live as well as possible within a service that gives service users, carers and SLaM staff the opportunity to learn together and from one another.
My proudest achievement was seeing the SLaM Recovery College film for the first time recently. Some of the college students, staff and contributors from right across the Trust took part, including Matthew Patrick, SLaM’s Chief Executive. Hearing people speak about the impact the college is having, within the organisation and in the lives of our students in such a short time was incredible.
I started pottery classes earlier this year (a very ‘OT’ thing to do!) which I’m really enjoying but a lot of my free time is starting to be taken up by studying an MSc in Organisational Psychiatry and Psychology at the IoPPN (the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience at King’s). I also try to get home to New Zealand once a year to see family and find some sunshine during the UK winter.
I played table tennis for New Zealand for several years as a teenager as well as softball at provincial level for Otago where I’m from.
A solar powered phone to call someone to get me out of there… or scuba gear if that wasn’t an option.
We hope you enjoyed reading this interview with Kirsty. Find out more about how you can get involved in supporting the services at SLaM.]]>
Thanks to generous donations from people like you, Bethlem Museum of the Mind and Bethlem Gallery have been able to move from their separate locations to now being housed under one roof. This has the advantage of allowing each institution to benefit from the other's expertise, plus a larger and much more appealing space for visitors.
>> Find out more about this project.]]>
RideLondon is a closed road race from the centre of London out to Box Hill in Surrey, and then back to The Mall in the capital. Two fantastic SLaM staff members took on the challenge to raise money for their workplace, so we found out more about their motivations.
Dulcie did her nursing training at South London and Maudsley and now works there permanently. After doing one of her placements at Foxley Lane Women’s Service, an 8-bed inpatient unit for women aged 16-65 with mental illness, she has decided to take part in RideLondon to raise funds for the ‘highly valuable’ service.
‘I did a three-month clinical placement at the Foxley Lane during my training and was thoroughly inspired by the work of the nurses there. The small team work incredibly hard, doing everything from cooking the dinner to leading therapy sessions.
'Cycling is both my hobby and my means of transport. I’ve been looking for a long distance event so chose RideLondon, and the fact that I can raise money for SLaM at the same time is brilliant.
'I’ll be going solo for the ride! It’s one of the things I love about cycling. I’m looking forward to getting the hills over and done with, and the opportunity to ride in the city without traffic.
'I held a charity yard sale in July to help with my fundraising and raised £120. I’ve also been sending lots of emails to colleagues past and present, as well as family and friends.’
Richard works within Snowsfields Adolescent Unit at the Maudsley Hospital. Snowsfields was set up by Richard in 1998 and was the first adolescent unit in the UK to make all beds available for urgent admissions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
‘I got into road cycling three years ago, initially as a healthy way to commute to work. Since joining the London Phoenix Cycling Club in 2013, I’ve have taken my riding to a whole new level and managed to qualify for the UCI World Amateur Road Championship in Denmark later this year.
'RideLondon is 100 miles on closed roads and follows the route used for the 2012 Olympics, so I was unable to resist the challenge of taking part.
'I’ve worked for South London and Maudsley for nearly 25 years now. Although our basic service provision is covered by public funding, having a charitable fund is a vital resource for research and innovation. Without such support the world-renowned creativity of our Trust would suffer. It therefore feels very special to be investing my time and effort in helping the Charity.’
You can sign up to support South London and Maudsley in RideLondon 2016.
On Friday 26 and Saturday 27 June, during a weekend of glorious sunshine, 12 fundraisers abseiled to raise vital funds for SLaM. The total raised from the abseil so far is approximately £2,058 (excluding Gift Aid), with more donations still coming in.
Congratulations everyone on your amazing efforts!
The 100ft drop down the glass exterior overlooks the ambulance bay just outside King’s A&E department, where abseilers descended to the cheers of many friends, family members and colleagues on the ground.
Our supporters who took part included Chantelle Jackson [main image], who wanted to give back to the hospital after receiving life affirming treatment.
Storm Janssen also took part in the sponsored abseil after being a patient, carer, volunteer and staff member at SLaM.
Many dedicated students and staff took part too including business administrator Edith Adeboji [image right]. She decided the abseil would be a fun way to give our support
Thank you so much to everyone involved! You can visit our Facebook page to view our gallery of photos from the day. You can also sign up for next year's abseil by emailing email@example.com.
Storm is abseiling for SLaM to give back as she has been a patient, volunteer, carer and staff member for many years pic.twitter.com/YbnxUNFE0X— Support SLaM (@SupportSLAM) June 27, 2015
Nearly at the bottom.
Well done to @MaudsleyNHS staff member Georgia who made it safely down - she says she won't do it again though! pic.twitter.com/ueFctgleNN— Support SLaM (@SupportSLAM) June 27, 2015
Georgia proudly showing off her certificate.
Thank you so much to everyone involved! You can visit our Facebook page to view our gallery of photos from the day. You can also sign up for next year's abseil by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.]]>